Five Key Questions for your Marketing Plan

Marketing’s first role is to define the distinct value offered by a business and then map that value to buyers who are compelled to purchase that value (and who have the money to buy).

The most common reason great ideas don’t become profitable businesses is this misalignment between value, markets & the reality of both.

Before you can successfully create a social media, PR or branding plan – marketing must have a clear perspective on the Value and Markets that align to drive profitable revenue for the business.

Here are key questions to ask and answer before you step into tactics.

1. What is my distinct Value in the eyes of my market?

There are two key aspects of this most important question. The first is – what about my offerings is distinct?  If everyone else has it – you’re not distinct.  Distinction isn’t just about your product, it can come from distribution and services as well.  A great example from the not so distant past is Netflix. They didn’t have any product distinction over Blockbuster. They did have tremendous value thanks to their distribution and business model. Unfortunately for Netflix, they rested on the laurels of that distinct value. We can all see the impact today as that innovation became status quo over time.

The second key aspect concerns your buyer’s perspective. What you think doesn’t matter – unless you’re planning on buying your products or services. Get out and chat with potential buyers. Ask what they think. They have the bucks!

Other questions to think about: How distinct and defensible is it? For how long will it be distinct?

2. What are the markets who are compelled to buy that value?

We live in 350 degrees of market opportunity. But not every market that you could sell to is your best opportunity. That’s why we have to focus. The best strategy is often to focus on one to two smaller markets, get traction and proof of your value, and then leverage that success into larger or broader markets.

Other questions to ask: Do these markets have dollars for purchasing my value? How competitive are these markets? Do I have the distinction and credibility to capture these buyers?

3. What are their pain points?

I always suggest to my startup clients that they ask a simple question. So What?

  • So what does this mean to my buyer?
  • So what can my buyer do that they can’t do today and how does that provide value to their business?
  • So what problem am I solving and how does that provide value to them?

Other questions to ask: Do I have customer stories to share this value in their perspective? How can I get these stories?

4. How can I best create engagement with those markets and buyers?

Engagement is created in business just like they’re created personally – through common interests.  Once you understand your buyers needs (from above), ask yourself, “ Where do they live, read and communicate?”  Then find a way to be there to join their discussions, add value and expert advice. Don’t talk about yourself. Do talk about them.

Other Questions to ask: What critical expertise can I share with this audience to improve their buying practice? What real world experience from other clients can help them succeed?

5. Do I have that budget?

Today’s marketing channels are much lower cost than a few years ago. Even better, today’s buyers don’t buy because of that four-color ad, so save the money and focus on what matters.  For example, happy customers create the best marketing of all.  So focus on servicing your buyers, not that 4-color brochure, ad or other chest thumping promotion.

Summary: Marketing’s role is evolving thanks to today’s digitally empowered buyer. But one role remains. When marketing begins by defining distinct value that compels buyers to spend their dollars – your business is already one step toward success.

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